Beyond the Grave (reviewed by Lisa Marie Bowman)

 

Beyond the Grave is an intriguingly enigmatic film about the end of the world.

Why was the world ended?  To the film’s credit, this is left intentionally vague.  Some characters mention that the “Seven Gateways of Hell” have been opened.  (Just the term “Seven Gateways of Hell” pays wonderful homage to Lucio Fulci’s horror classics, The Beyond and City of the Living Dead.)  At one point, we spy some graffiti reading, “Beware the Walking Dude,” which, of course, brings to mind the apocalyptic fiction of Stephen King.  Occasionally, small groups of “returners” are seen aimlessly wandering up and down empty highways.  Are they zombies or are they something else?  Occasionally, on the radio, a disembodied voice is heard over a car radio.  “This is the end of the world,” the voice says, “If you are listening to this, it is already too late.”

One thing that quickly becomes obvious is that there’s very few “normal” people left alive.  One of these is a mysterious and enigmatic man known as the Officer (Rafael Tombini).  The Officer, who carries both a sword and a gun that carries only one bullet, drives a police car over the deserted landscape and dispenses his own form of justice.  Who he works for or if there’s any sort of controlling legal authority left in this world is another issue that the film leads intriguingly vague.

(I appreciated the fact that the film — much like Romero’s original Dead films and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road — only hinted at what had causes it’s world-changing cataclysm.  When it comes to end of the world, there should never be any simple answers.)

The Officer is hunting a demonic force known as the Dark Rider and, as he explains, it’s a search that he began before the world even ended.  (And, indeed, we saw in a brief flashback that the Dark Rider existed even when there was still civilization.)  Throughout the film, the Dark Rider jumps from body to body, all the while uttering, “What is near me, shall become mine.”

Working with two teenagers, the Officer searches the Dark Rider, taking time to only briefly rest at a compound.  When, about 42 minutes into the film, the Officer finally tracks the Rider down, something totally unexpected happens, something that forces the audience to reconsider everything that they had previously assumed about how the film was going to work.  I’m not going to tell you what happens.  That’s something you should discover for yourself.

Beyond the Grave is a visually stunning hybrid of a film.  It’s a western, a zombie movie, a postapocalyptic action film, and a philosophical rumination of man’s place in the universe, all wrapped up in one!  Director Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro gets the most out of the film’s bleak locations and Rafael Tombini gives an excellent lead performance as the enigmatic Officer. Beyond the Grave is an intriguing film, both for the questions it answers and for the ones that it leaves unanswered.  It’s a film that any horror fan should see and will appreciate.

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